Cracked's editor: World events driven by our laughably huge underestimation of effort for everything

"America is full of frustrated, broken, baffled people because so many of us think, ‘If I work this hard, this many hours a week, I should have (a great job, a nice house, a nice car, etc). I don’t have that thing, therefore something has corrupted the system and kept me from getting what I deserve, and that something must be (the government, illegal immigrants, my wife, my boss, my bad luck, etc).’ "

“I really think Effort Shock has been one of the major drivers of world events. Think about the whole economic collapse and the bad credit bubble. You can imagine millions of working types saying, ‘All right, I have NO free time. I work every day, all day. I come home and take care of the kids. We live in a tiny house, with two shitty cars. And we are still deeper in debt every single month.’ So they borrow and buy on credit because they have this unspoken assumption that, dammit, the universe will surely right itself at some point and the amount of money we should have been making all along (according to our level of effort) will come raining down.”

How The Karate Kid Ruined The Modern World

I can’t find a single misplaced observation here, anywhere. To my utter horror. God, it all makes sense now . . .

Advertising makes us think everything becomes effortless and problem-free (once you have their product)

I blame the Industrial Revolution.
But yeah, you have to teach a person to be wary of advertising, of falling into the trap of thinking “I deserve to have this!”. They don’t come knowing about those pitfalls.

But it’s not just advertising – as the OP and the linked article point out, this sort of thing is common in the movies (the article uses the Karate Kid, but I can point out many other examples, going back decades earlier. Or consider how apparently quickly Mr. Incredible loses his gut in the montage sequence in The Incredibles.)
I think he’s got a point. I don’t know that it’s responsible for all the things the article says, but I do think people seriously underestimate both the time and effort needed for achieving a goal. It’s boring to show this in a movie, but it always did bother me that Luke only seemed to get about 15 minutes of Jedi Training.

Kids especially - who has not seen a kid meltdown around Christmas at being told no to some stupid toy or another … as if not getting the newest whizbang will ruin their entire life …

The flip side is, of course, the people who read stats about folks who are poor or on food stamps and think, “They should just get a job and they could afford anything they need instead of living off the sweat of us hardworking honest taxpayers” without bothering to find out that the people in question already work 14 hours a day at two different jobs that don’t pay shit.

I blame the horrible idea that if we’re good people, good things happen to us, and that bad things only happen to bad people, who deserve it.

So when bad things happen to us, we might think there is something wrong with us, but much worse than that, all too many people around us think that there is something wrong with us.

As I’ve posted before, I consider that a leftover herd mentality thing. The animal displaying any weakness is PREY. So when we’re losing, when we’ve lost, when we’re ill, when we’re down, we’re showing signs of being a prey animal, and the other people around us unconsciously shy away from us for fear of also being prey.

It is also the horrible misfortune of seeing all too many people around us skate through life with apparent ease, all their needs being provided for seemingly without effort.

I’ve thought about writing a book entitled When Good Things Happen to Bad People.

Heck, I’d argue that good things are likelier to happen to a certain kind of bad person than they are to happen to good people. A man with no scruples can place himself in a position to enjoy all sorts of short-term gains with relatively little effort. For that matter, a man with no scruples who’s willing to work for it can amass quite a lot of power. If I may Godwinize the thread - Stalin and Hitler were horrible people, and some thoroughly excellent things (from their perspective) happened to them precisely because they were horrible people.

It gives the illusion that we can control whether or not bad things happen to us. If everybody who bad things happen to did something to deserve them, then you just have to not do whatever they did, and bad things won’t happen to you. A lot of people like to feel like they are in control, and this lets them think they are.

That’s more or less my point. You have to teach kids about advertising, and why it isn’t going to improve your life to have the latest thing.

That’s why I find Buddhism, in its typically subtle way, to be more pernicious than what Christianity is typically accused of being. Job being told by the whirlwind, “what do you understand, asshole? I’m God and you’re not” seems bad enough, but to my mind “you may not remember it, but believe me, you deserve it” is rather worse.

not to hijack my own thread or anything :wink:

All I know is that there should be a government subsidy for me to buy the best shampoos and body sprays, because then I would be mobbed by cheerleaders and would get all the sex I deserve.

This cannot possibly be overemphasized. Let’s all say it together…

***The animal displaying any weakness is PREY.

It explains so very much about our competitive drive, our denial of kindness and compassion, our unwillingness to look after the less fortunate (or even to allow them to be looked after on our nickel).

One other thing we need to say together, though…

Sooner or later we will ALL be prey.

We used to understand this as part of life’s necessary humility. “Win some, lose some.” “Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down.” It helped some of us, at least, to be a little more understanding.

We’ve lost that - I think through fear - fear inspired by seeing what happens to the noncompetitives and those branded losers in present-day society.

Not to go Mr. Apocalyptic on y’all, but maybe we just need a lot more losers.

Cruel irony – the article contains the lamentation “I have NO free time”, yet it’s located on Cracked. I just wasted 90 minutes of time that I do not have, just like I do every time I go to that fucking site.

Difference here: this time you learned something of potentially immense value.

I’ve realized this for years. The American work ethic is delusional. Working hard will not necessarily reward you, and those who are rewarded don’t necessarily work hard. The idea that there is a correlation is little more than a religious belief. Most people who work the hardest reap the leat reward, and those who reap the most reap the least.

I do agree that the notion that life is inherently fair, and the cognitive dissonance that results when people find out that the universe doesn’t care what kind of person you are, or how hard you work is the root of a lot of the anger and resentment and scapegoating of the sort you see among a lot of the have-nots.

I don’t think the point is that there is no correlation between hard work and reward: it’s that most people don’t even grasp what “hard work” is.

If you consider the American work ethic as basically Calvinist/Protestant - which IMO it is - then the disconnect is even more jarring for people who were shaped by that faith. To give your life over to a company, trade, or profession was godly in itself for many of them.

Oh, I think they know. It’s having to put in more than you get out - having to generate that surplus value that keeps the profit-driven machine going. Although nowadays it’s time and stress more often than muscle and breath.